Questioning perspectives allows Georgia Gwinnett College student to find her path
Muminah Chaudhry came to Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) expecting to earn a degree in biochemistry. Instead, she discovered an entirely new direction in life, and a newfound understanding of herself.
Chaudhry’s parents, Habib and Tanveer, raised her and her three brothers as a close-knit family as Habib’s career as an electrical engineer took them around the country – to Indiana, Wisconsin and finally, Georgia. She had her sights set on a different college after she graduated from McIntosh High School in Peachtree City, until a pamphlet from GGC showed up in the mailbox.
“It seems weird, but that pamphlet came in the mail from GGC and it changed everything,” she said. Her dad convinced her to visit the campus “just to see what happens” since it was close to their home in Lawrenceville, and that was all it took.
“We came to campus and drove around, and it was just gorgeous,” she said. “It had the college feel. The other campus I’d been to hadn’t given me that. I was like, ‘I think I need to go to school here.’ And that’s how GGC started to blossom in my life.”
Chaudhry came to GGC in August 2014 and started the journey towards a biochemistry degree.
“My aunt, who has been a remarkable anesthesiologist for the past 20 years, was my inspiration to go into the field of medicine. Unfortunately, between pursuing biochemistry and general biology for almost three years of my undergraduate career, I could not make it through organic chemistry, despite three sincere attempts,” she explained. “I thought, ‘You know I think maybe God’s trying to tell me something here.’”
She found her calling serendipitously through, of all things, a roller-skating accident during her sophomore year. It was at an event hosted by one of the student groups she was involved in, the Greenlight Activities Board.
“I like to go fast and I got a little too confident,” she laughed.
She sprained and punctured a blood vessel in her right foot, an injury that put her on crutches for a month and in physical therapy at a local clinic.
“I had to learn how to walk again,” she said. “I also learned how to let go of my pride, realized the value of having a strong support system and allowing myself to be vulnerable to them in difficult situations. I remember leaving the clinic one day feeling 100 percent healed, and that was a turning point for me. I realized the impact that a rehabilitation professional can make on a person’s life.”
She switched her major to exercise science and its clinical concentration to great success.
As a proud Muslim, Chaudhry has been very open about her cultural background, her struggles with identity and spirituality, and her willingness to share some extremely personal and challenging experiences around religion, womanhood, and acceptance.
She said a key to her success at GGC was getting involved in student groups, particularly the Muslim Student Association, the Greenlight program, and getting hired to work as a student engagement specialist for the Office of Student Involvement and Student Center.
“I’d encourage new students to get involved, especially if they’re looking to make friends or just need something to do. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of the college experience in my opinion,” she said. “I would tell a young person thinking of coming to GGC – college is not easy. It will break you and then recreate you into a better person. From my experience, college is a time when I realized it’s better to strive for excellence and not perfection. In high school I got almost all A’s, I was in the top of my class, and then college came around and was like, ‘We are turning the tables on you.’ I had my hardships in academics, I had my hardships in my personal life – I questioned my faith, wearing the hijab, I questioned when I got injured. It made me rethink my pride. I learned that you can still be strong and ask for help. That shows a sign of humility and self-reflection, and that you’re willing to grow and consider other perspectives.”
After graduation, Chaudhry plans to take some time reflect on everything she’s learned over the last few years before moving on to the next step. She’s been interning at the Medical Fitness and Wellness Group in Johns Creek to get exposed to the different paths within the rehabilitation field and hopes to attend graduate school and possibly earn a doctorate one day.
Recently named commencement student speaker, Chaudhry will share her remarks with more than 500 of her classmates at GGC’s virtual fall commencement, scheduled for 10 a.m., Dec. 10. The ceremony can be viewed at www.ggc.edu/commencement.